Identifying an insect in Cambridge UK

I have come across an insect in Cambridge UK that I could not identify.

I tried to find this in various catalogues of local insects without success. The insect was about 1-2cm in length and didn't move at all until it was disturbed. I found it around 11am. We are currently experiencing high temperature variations (8C-20C).

Could someone please help identify it and point me at any useful resources I can use in the future?

It's a greater bee fly, Bombylius major, a nectar feeder and generalist floral pollinator which pollinates hundreds of species of flowers. It lays eggs near real bee nests and it's larvae feed from the bee larvae.

Identifying an insect in Cambridge UK - Biology

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Volvox (green)Haematococcus (red colored)dinoflagellate (red, green, some multicolored)

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Did you find the honey bee? Why do you think some insects pretend to be a bee?

The X1 recycles agricultural residues and industrial food waste to produce natural insect protein, which in turn reduces dependency on unsustainable soy feed.

Our feed improves animal health and welfare, and is cost-effective without compromising productivity.

*Numbers are based on estimates and may vary slightly based on each case.

Plastic-eating worms could help wage war on waste

For caterpillars that are bred as premium fish bait, it must rank as a better life. Rather than dangling on the end of a hook and wondering what comes next, the grubs are set to join the war on plastic waste.

The larvae of wax moths are sold as delicious snacks for chub, carp and catfish, but in the wild the worms live on beeswax, making them the scourge of beekeepers across Europe.

But in a chance discovery, a scientist and amateur beekeeper has found that waxworms have a taste for more than wax. When Federica Bertocchini removed an infestation from one of her hives and put them in a plastic bag, the worms simply ate their way out.

“I went back to the room where I had left the worms and I found that they were everywhere,” she said. “The bag was full of holes.”

The breakout led Bertocchini, a researcher at the Spanish National Research Council, and scientists at Cambridge University, to investigate the feeding habits of the centimetre-long Galleria mellonella grubs. In lab tests, they discovered that 100 worms can devour 92 milligrams of polyethylene in as little as 12 hours.

With such a voracious appetite for plastic, the worms could be put to good use, the scientists reasoned. Each year, the average person uses more than 200 plastic bags which can take between 100 and 400 years to degrade in landfill sites.

The grubs appear to breakdown polyethylene with the same enzymes they use for eating beeswax. To confirm that the worms were not simply chewing the plastic into smaller pieces, the scientists mashed some of them up and smeared the grub paste on plastic bags. Again, according to the study in Current Biology, holes appeared.

Paolo Bombelli, a biochemist at Cambridge who took part in the study, said the finding could lead to a solution to the plastic waste mounting up in waterways, oceans and landfills. With further research, the scientists hope to identify the enzymes that the waxworms produce when they go to work on a bag. The genes for these might then be put into bacteria, such as E coli, or into marine organisms called phytoplankton, and used to degrade plastics in the wild.

“We should be very happy that we have plastic for millions of items, but we need to be careful about plastic waste, and what we are studying might help for minimising that,” Bombelli said.

Because there are strict regulations around the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment, another way to reduce plastic waste could be to breed large numbers of the waxworms and let them loose on waste. But that might only be viable if the worms have an endless appetite for plastic shopping bags.

“We want to know if they’re munching the plastic to use as a food, or just because they want to escape,” said Bombelli. “If they just want to escape, they are going to get fed up very soon. But if they’re munching it to use as an energy source it’s a completely different ball game. We are not yet able to answer this, but we’re working on it.”

In 2018, I contributed the following teaching:
ARTH 4151 Topics in Media Arts: two lecture and one laboratory class
Graduate course BIOMG7810: Problems in Genetics and Development: one session
Insect Physiology ENTOM4830: 20 lectures and linked labs/projects
Orientation Lectures in Molecular Biology and Genetics BIOMG1380, one lecture

In 2016, I contributed to the design of ARTH 4151 Topics in Media Arts, together with one lecture and lab visit for students. I also contributed one session in the graduate course BIOMG7810: Problems in Genetics and Development at Cornell University a professional development class at the University of Cambridge, UK and genomics workshops for undergraduate students at University of Mansfield, PA and Corning Community College, NY

In 2015, I contributed 20 lectures and linked labs/projects to Insect Physiology: (4830), one session in Graduate course ENTOM7670: Professional Development in Entomology, and one session in Graduate course BIOMG7810: Problems in Genetics and Development.

In 2014, I contributed 3 lectures in Chemical Ecology (3690), and one session in Graduate course BIOMG7810: Problems in Genetics and Development

In 2013, I contributed 20 lectures and linked labs/projects to the course Insect Physiology (ENTOM 4830), and I contributed to the BIOMG7810 Problems in Genetics and Development.

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Identification & Management Assistance

For assisstance with insect identification and management in Kentucky, bring questions and specimens directly to your local County Extension Office. Your local office can also help you find and print factsheets and other information. These services are provided to Kentuckians at no cost.

Residents of states outside of Kentucky should contact their local or regional extension service.

Welcome to BugGuide.Net!

Photo © Joyce Gross

We are an online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures.

We enjoy the opportunity to instill in others the fascination and appreciation that we share for the intricate lives of these oft-maligned creatures.

Using the best resources we have access to, we are creating a knowledgebase to help each other and the online community.

We collect photographs of bugs from the United States and Canada for identification and research.

We summarize our findings in guide pages for each order, family, genus, and species.

Making New Discoveries

More than just a clearinghouse for information, this site helps expand on the natural histories of our subjects. By capturing the place and time that submitted images were taken, we are creating a virtual collection that helps define where and when things might be found.

We capture never-before-seen behaviors and we have photos of species that you won't find anywhere else on the web.


Ticks are bugs in the order Parasitiformes. They are in the Arachnida class so are related to spiders. They don't have wings or antennae. They embed themselves in your skin and can be quite difficult to remove. Ticks transmit a number of diseases including Lyme disease, Q fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Colorado tick fever.

Lice are wingless insects in the order Phthiraptera. The word lice is dreaded among parents with school-aged children. No parent wants their child to come home from school with a note from the teacher stating, "I'm sorry to inform you but we've had an outbreak of lice at our school. "

Head lice are typically found on the scalp, neck, and behind the ears. Lice can also invade pubic hair and are often referred to as "crabs." While lice typically feed on skin, they can also feed on blood and other skin secretions.

Appearance and habits

The majority of insects are small, usually less than 6 mm (0.2 inch) long, although the range in size is wide. Some of the feather-winged beetles and parasitic wasps are almost microscopic, while some tropical forms such as the hercules beetles, African goliath beetles, certain Australian stick insects, and the wingspan of the hercules moth can be as large as 27 cm (10.6 inches).

In many species the difference in body structure between the sexes is pronounced, and knowledge of one sex may give few clues to the appearance of the other sex. In some, such as the twisted-wing insects ( Strepsiptera), the female is a mere inactive bag of eggs, and the winged male is one of the most active insects known. Modes of reproduction are quite diverse, and reproductive capacity is generally high. Some insects, such as the mayflies, feed only in the immature or larval stage and go without food during an extremely short adult life. Among social insects, queen termites may live for up to 50 years, whereas some adult mayflies live less than two hours.

Some insects advertise their presence to the other sex by flashing lights, and many imitate other insects in colour and form and thus avoid or minimize attack by predators that feed by day and find their prey visually, as do birds, lizards, and other insects.

Behaviour is diverse, from the almost inert parasitic forms, whose larvae lie in the nutrient bloodstreams of their hosts and feed by absorption, to dragonflies that pursue victims in the air, tiger beetles that outrun prey on land, and predaceous water beetles that outswim prey in water.

In some cases the adult insects make elaborate preparations for the young, in others the mother alone defends or feeds her young, and in still others the young are supported by complex insect societies. Some colonies of social insects, such as tropical termites and ants, may reach populations of millions of inhabitants.

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